A new PBS show wants to celebrate unsung heroes across the U.S. — and it’s highlighting Jason Johnson, a Detroit native and founder of the nonprofit Project K9 Hero, in one of its episodes. Premiering June 24, American Anthems pairs some of today’s biggest country music stars and songwriters with people who are making a difference. Inspired by their hero’s story, they write original country music songs to honor their work.
Johnson, a military veteran who served in the Middle East as a K-9 handler, started Project K-9 Hero after learning that government care and funding comes to a stop for military K-9s once they retire. The nonprofit — which has offices in Detroit as well as Virginia and Tennessee — aims to support retired military working dogs and police K-9s through assistance with medical costs, food, rehabilitation, adoption, and other services. It’s now raising funds to build a rehabilitation and rehoming facility just northwest of Chattanooga, Tennessee.
For Johnson’s episode of American Anthems, he’s paired with Michael and Tanya Trotter, the duo known as The War and Treaty. After learning about Johnson and his nonprofit, Michael, who is also a veteran and has overcome a fear of dogs, and Tanya write a song that celebrates Johnson’s advocacy and raises awareness about the challenges K-9s face. “There are heroes all around us, and we’re so appreciative to be part of honoring some of our nation’s most overlooked and forgotten — especially the ones on all fours,” Michael says in a press release.
The six-episode season will also connect Sugarland’s Jennifer Nettles and songwriter Bill Sherman with Seth Grumet, the founder of Stomp the Monster, which provides support to cancer patients. Country artist Ruston Kelly and songwriter Kate York, who is best known for songs on the show Nashville, will create a song for Melissa Smith, founder of Blacklight Productions, a performing arts organization for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. And Lee Brice and songwriter Billy Montana will be paired with Ashley Ruiz, who is a team leader for The Laundry Project in Nashville. The nonprofit provides laundry services to lower-income families.
“American Anthems is an amazing show that truly captures how simple acts of kindness result in larger-than-life outcomes,” says Brice in a press release. “A good country song is like a good deed — they are simple, heartfelt stories with long-lasting impact.”
American Anthems premieres at 10 p.m. on June 24. Johnson’s episode will air on July 8.
For more information, visit pbs.org.